GARDINER — Under the brilliant sunshine, the volunteers held a shower.
A baby shower for the birds it was, witnessed by a small flock of magnificent grownups.
Jett the Harris hawk, Ryder the Swainson’s hawk, Dillon the great horned owl and Merlot the kestrel were all present for Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue’s Sunday afternoon event at a shop on U.S. Highway 101 last weekend.
Wild Birds Unlimited’s public garden served as the venue for the rescue organization’s annual baby-bird shower, a collecting of donations monetary and otherwise.
Towels, pillowcases, heating pads and lamps are among the items needed to care for nestlings and fledglings brought in to licensed wildlife rehabilitator Cynthia Daily.
A handful of volunteers joined Daily to show off Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue’s permanent residents: raptors that are human-imprinted or injured to a degree that makes it unsafe to release them into the wild.
“We thought long and hard about being here” amid coronavirus concerns and event cancellations, Daily said.
“This could be our last chance. We just want to be here for people dropping things off.”
A few did come with donations, but the numbers were significantly lower than previous years, said Madison Crabtree, 17, a volunteer who introduced visitors to Darwin the screech owl.
“He doesn’t screech,” she said of the dove-sized bird, who merely gazed peaceably at passers-by.
Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue also shared cards with information about helping the winged youngsters out there.
If you find an uninjured nestling, put it back in the nest.
Can’t find the nest?
Build one from a margarine tub or similar shape; poke drainage holes, line it with tissue and nail it to a tree as close as possible to the original nest’s likely location. Make sure baby and nest will stay shaded and protected as the sun moves.
As for fledglings: If you find one unhurt, put it back where it was, or hide it in a bush or other foliage. Try to keep pets and children away for a few days.
If you find an injured nestling or fledgling, contact Discovery Bay Wild Bird Rescue at 360-379-0802. The organization can also be reached via www.discoverybaywildbirdrescue.com, [email protected] and P.O. Box 861, Port Townsend, WA 98368.
The Wild Birds Unlimited shop at 275953 U.S. Highway 101 — equidistant from Port Townsend and Sequim — is an ideal drop-off point for people rescuing avian patients, Daily added.
“We get every kind of bird, from hummingbirds to sea birds to eagles,” she said.
Since the retirement of Jaye Moore, founder of Sequim’s Northwest Raptor Center, the Discovery Bay rescuers have seen their patient load double.
“Last year we had 400 birds come in,” Daily said.
One recent arrival is Merlot, a kestrel or sparrow hawk from the Yakima Valley.
The bird, now age 17 or so, was the label model for a winery there.
Since he was ready for retirement, “they called and asked, ‘Would you like Merlot?’” Daily said.
To which the answer was yes.
Diane Urbani de la Paz, a former features editor for the Peninsula Daily News, is a freelance writer living in Port Townsend.